If there’s one convenience appliance that has changed our lives for the better, it has to be the mini fridge.
These trusty, compact fridges have been by our sides in us through our college dorm rooms, man caves, and game rooms, and they’re always ready to deliver up ice cold drinks and snacks without missing a beat.
When things start to go awry with your mini fridge, your first reaction is probably to panic. You know nothing about mini fridge repair and you can’t afford the call out charge of a refrigerator technician, but luckily these sturdy little appliances can be fixed with some simple troubleshooting and repair tips.
What are some methods of mini fridge repair you can do for yourself?
If your fridge is no longer reaching cool temperatures or seems to be broken, you can perform a check of its vents, temperature control, power supply, and condenser coils to see where the issue is originating.
Better yet, most issues can be fixed yourself with the need for tools or mechanical aptitude.
If you’re the lucky owner of a mini fridge that has recently started underperforming, check out our tips and tricks for repair. By working your way through the most common fixes you can rule out any problems and get your trusty best friend working again to keep your drinks and snacks cool.
Toss It or Repair It?
At the first sign of failure, most people are willing to get rid of their appliances altogether and buy a brand new one.
While this might seem like the smart approach to people who have no skills in refrigerator repair, it doesn’t have to be your first option, because mini fridge repair can be surprisingly easy.
A good mini fridge can last upwards of 14 years, so consider first how long you’ve had yours. Although the warranty might only cover it for a year or two, this is inconsequential, as most people have very old fridges still up and running at home.
Secondly, do some research and look up the make and model of your fridge online. You might be surprised that people with the same fridge have experienced a similar problem, and there’s already a quick fix out there that you can try.
Unless it’s glaringly obvious that it can’t be fixed, you should always attempt mini fridge repair for yourself first, and without the need for any special know-how.
Mini Fridge Repair Troubleshooting Tips
Most fridges experience the same handful of problems over the years and this applies to both mini fridges and standard sized household fridges.
Run through these tips and tricks for mini fridge repair before you call in the experts and see if you can get it working again on your own.
#1: Check the Power Supply
You might be rolling your eyes at the mere suggestion of this, but sometimes mini fridge repair is really this easy.
Your fridge relies on a constant source of electricity to work so if you’re having problems you’ll want to check the easiest fix first to rule that out.
Take a look at the power cord to see that it’s still plugged in and hasn’t come loose from the fridge’s vibrations. Inspect the cord to see it’s not damaged or frayed, and also look at the electrical socket it’s plugged into. Switch it to another to see if that does anything to help as the problem could be a faulty socket.
Finally, check the breaker on the electrical panel in case it’s been tripped. This safety switch will have turned itself into the “off” position to protect from electrical faults.
Flip it back on and see if it has any impact on the fridge, and if it starts humming again then that’s a good sign your fridge is receiving power again.
#2: Get Rid of the Extension Cord
Having your mini fridge plugged into an extension cord alongside other appliances and chargers is common, but this isn’t a smart approach.
The compressor inside of a fridge uses a lot of power, even the mini models, and it can cause the extension cord to overheat and start to deteriorate from the inside.
Make some changes to the room your fridge is in so that you can plug it directly into a wall socket. A mini fridge should be using its own power source and never shared with other appliances, as it can cause a blowout or overheating.
If you suspect it was the extension cord or power board causing the problem, throw it out immediately.
#3: Clean and Test the Gasket
A door seal or gasket is an integral part of a refrigerator and it could be the cause of your issue.
If you feel like the fridge isn’t cooling or there seems to be a problem with the door, test the seal by placing a sheet of paper in the door and then close it. If you pull on it and it’s stuck in there, your seal isn’t the problem, but if it easily comes loose, you need to fix it ASAP.
Try to clean the gasket first and get inside every nook and cranny, then let it dry and try the paper test again.
Take a look at all sides of it to find out where the damage or leak is, and if you can’t see an obvious one, call in for expert help. It’s a cheap fix and can give years more life to your faithful mini fridge.
#4: Look at the Thermostat
If your fridge isn’t cooling as it should, it could be an issue with the thermostat. Sometimes, we accidentally change the setting without realizing and it could be a simple matter of turning it back.
If you don’t get any obvious signs that it’s back on and running, like a humming sound or the click of the compressor, it may be broken or could have disconnected from the fridge itself.
Replacing a thermostat is moderately easy and can be achieved with a simple home toolkit. However, if you’re not confident in your skills then call a handyman to get the job done, for a relatively cheap fee.
#5: Check the Condenser Coils
The condenser coils remove the heat from the refrigerant and they’re an important part of your fridge. If there’s an issue with your mini fridge there’s a good chance these coils are to blame.
First, check that the fridge has at least three inches between its back and the wall so the coils have enough space and don’t get overheated, as this can cause it to break down.
Secondly, perform a quick clean of the condenser coils and remove any dust. Make a note to do this twice a year, as it’s estimated most fridge repair issues are due to this singular problem. Give it a few hours after cleaning to see if it’s made any difference, and if not, try the next approach.
#6: Clean Out the Vents
A fridge relies on cold air to work, so it’s not surprising that when this cold air can’t travel through, it causes issues. The vents of your mini fridge can get clogged with food and ice which means it’s not cooling down inside.
To fix this, use a hairdryer to melt any ice from the vents, and clean them out with a toothbrush to dislodge any food.
Make an effort not to pack any food near the vents and give them ample space to spread the cool air through the fridge and you’ll never have this problem again.
#7: Perform a Defrost
A simple defrost can be the answer to your prayers when it comes to mini fridge repair. Because most mini fridges share space with a small freezer section, it’s common that the build-up of frost and ice causes some issues.
To perform a defrost, take all of the foods and drinks out and move them to another fridge or cool box. Unplug the fridge from the wall and give it a good few hours to completely melt away.
Empty the defrost drain pan at the bottom of the fridge and give everything a total wipe down before turning it back on.
#8: Check the Fans
There are a few fans at work inside of a mini fridge and any one of them having issues could lead to problems.
By performing a quick check of the two key fans you can see if they’re to blame, and if you’re unable to rectify them yourself, call in the experts.
Some models of fridges have condenser coils located underneath them rather than at the back, and if this is the case there’ll be a fan there as well. These fans can get lodged with dust and dirt, so give it a clean if so.
Secondly, check the evaporator fan located inside the back panel of the fridge and clean this out as well. If you notice broken fan blades, it will need replacing altogether.
#9: Check the Start Relay
A start relay is what helps to start the compressor inside the fridge. Sometimes, these can become faulty or damaged which means it’s unable to power up the compressor and the fridge won’t be able to cool.
To test the start relay, you’ll need a tool called a multimeter which can test whether it has an electrical current running through it.
If you’re unable to find any voltage, you’ll likely have to get this part replaced, but don’t attempt it yourself if you don’t have electrical knowledge.
#10: Check the Compressor
The compressor plays an important role in the fridge and pushes the gas through the condenser coils.
When the compressor itself doesn’t work, your fridge won’t either, so do a quick check to see if you can notice any obvious faults with it.
If the compressor isn’t turning or it’s making a strange sound, you’ll need a new one.
However, these are one of the most expensive parts for a fridge and they can’t be replaced easily, so you’re better off at this point buying a new mini fridge and saving yourself the trouble.
Mini fridge repair is a handy skill to have if you’re an owner of one of these compact appliances.
There are loads of other handy things to learn about mini fridges and how to get the best use out of them, so we’ve answered some FAQs about them to show you what they’re all about.
Can I Take a Mini Fridge Camping?
It’s not advisable to take a mini fridge camping as they’re not equipped to be moved around in this way.
A mini fridge features a compressor that can be delicate when transported and easily broken when moved without care.
Therefore, it’s better to invest in a camping cooler or tabletop fridge designed to be taken on camping trips and other outdoor activities.
What Size is a Mini Fridge?
A mini fridge is obvious to spot when you see one, but compared to standard household refrigerators they have set dimensions that keep them in this category.
A mini refrigerator can vary in size from 1.7 cubic feet to 4.5 cubic feet. The smallest one on the market measures just 20.5 inches in height and the larger 4.5 cubic feet model is around 43 inches tall.
Are Mini Fridges Energy-Efficient?
All mini fridge models are made differently with some more energy efficient than others and newer models are usually more earth-friendly.
A standard compact refrigerator should consume less than 239.42 kilowatt-hours a year for it to have an Energy Star rating and be a manual defrost model, or less than 318.4 kWh/year for partial automatic defrost.